By Frank Amponsah
The President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has indicated that although the mining sector makes very important contributions to the generation of the country’s revenue, the average Ghanaian finds it difficult to appreciate that the country gains substantially from mining.
This, he said could be linked to the fact that the communities in which mining has been done remain largely underdeveloped, and do not show signs of being the origins of what brings wealth to so many people and places.
The President was addressing the opening ceremony of the 2018 West Africa Mining and Power Conference and Exhibition which coincides with the 90thAnniversary of the Chamber of Mines, under the theme “A Responsible and Sustainable Mining Industry, A Partner for National Development.”
He pointed out that after all these years, Ghana has not maximized the benefits of mining, and there remains a lot to learn of best practices from other places, so that it can protect the environment and reap maximum reward from the exploitation of our mineral resources.
According to him, over the years, Obuasi mines but does not show any sign that it is the home of the richest gold mine in the world.
“Ladies and gentlemen, as in now well-known, our nation faces a grave difficulty with the activities of illegal miners or galamsayers, as we call them. This is a problem that should be of great concern to the large-scale mining sector, and the Chamber of Mines as well. The rise in illegal mining has, no doubt, been fueled not only by the unemployment problem that has blighted our nation for so long, but also by the unhealthy desire for quick riches.”
According to him the degradation of the environment in mining is not done only by illegal or small-scale miners but that Large-scale mining companies have also been known to flout the rules, and degrade and, sometimes, pollute the water bodies.
“It is, therefore, essential that we quickly strengthen the regulatory institutions so that they can vigorously enforce environmental, health and safety laws to protect our people, our ecology and our future.”
He averred that there must be a lot of opportunities in the mining sector to help with the unemployment situation in the country and that the “One-District-One-Factory” programme should be used as an avenue through which we can enter the value chain addition of the mining industry.
Ghanaian entrepreneurs, he stressed must be encouraged to work with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Chamber to identify opportunities in the value chain, where indigenous companies can manufacture these products locally.
President Akufo-Addo also mentioned that Ghana has been touted as one of the countries with the fastest growth potential in the coming years and this growth according to a study by the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), is based largely on the strong performance of the extractives sector.
He said, the country’s mining extractive sector is no longer a large employer of labour due to improvement in the deployment of technology and innovation hence government needs to stimulate job creation in an integrated manner through the value chain of the extractives sector.
“The extractives sector, particularly mining, can help rapidly to grow our manufacturing sector. Government is empowering the private sector to create jobs and wealth by working closely with industry and academia to equip young professionals with the skills required to operate competitively in the sector. “
He revealed that government is establishing a new paradigm of an integrated mining industry to propel local manufacturing to offer huge potential for job-creation, and called on all players in the sector to work with government to deepen the integration of the mining sector with the non-mineral sectors of the economy.
Touching on the Minerals Development Fund Act (2016), Act 912, the President said that Act was enacted to address some of these problems, and my government is working to ensure that the Act is fully operational to provide financial resources to transform mining communities, but he is expecting the implementation of the National Assay Programme.